I’ve not looked forward to a fight like the one between myself and Dominick Cruz for a very long time. It’s scheduled for early summer as the main event of The Ultimate Fighter season 15 finale and you can be sure that this fight will be as good if not better than the previous two we’ve had.
Me and Dominick don’t see eye-to-eye; I guess that’s one way to put it. I’ve got to be honest, being around Dominick is not much fun for me. My lifestyle is all about hanging out with people I do enjoy being with, so to be forced to be with someone I don’t like is pretty out of character for me. But all the TUF filming will be fine. I’m pretty good at dealing with changes and I’ll just make the best of the situation, like I always do. It should be pretty funny actually. I’m convinced I’ll be getting the better of him when it comes to the mental warfare and stuff, so it’s not going to be a big deal for me.
Hate is a strong word, I don’t hate anybody, so I certainly won’t say that I hate Dominick Cruz. But I don’t like him and it always makes it better when you are fighting somebody you don’t like. You look forward to punching them in the face and imposing your will and it really adds an edge to it. But we are in a sport where you have to be level-headed; you have to always remember that this is a sport. Sometimes you’ll have to fight guys that you like and other times you’ll be paired with guys you don’t like. That’s just the way it plays out.
I’m not one of those guys who has to hate their opponent in order to fight harder or train harder, that’s for sure. But when your pride is on the line and bragging rights and a championship belt then, of course, there is extra incentive to go out there. But I approach every fight like it’s a fight for survival. It’s just this fight has an extra element to it.
If I am totally honest, I’d love to fight the guy every day. Maybe I’ll be able to convince him to get in the ring with me at some point during filming for TUF, during practice or a training session. But I won’t have to remove emotion from the fight at all. I get pretty emotional in the cage anyway, even though I don’t show it. I’m an emotional guy, but when it comes to the fight game I just switch on.
Every time I step into the cage I look at the guy across from me and I take something out of the fact I know they’re thinking they’re going to beat me up. I take that as a personal insult, that they even stepped in to face me. Even though I don’t say it, I’m thinking it. And it will be that same mentality except magnified when I get back in there with Dominick Cruz.
I don’t know if it’s the same for everybody but you definitely have to have a certain attitude when you go in to fight. Nobody gets in there thinking it’s okay if I get beat up. No professional MMA fighter believes their opponent is just a guy who’s coming to get beat up. If they are then they’re not going very far. So the mentality has to be one of confidence. Not cockiness, just confidence and that’s pretty universal. If you’re not confident you have no business stepping into the Octagon.
I gave Dominick a hug after our last fight, but we both knew then that there would be at least one more fight between us. It was a hug of respect for the battle we both endured, but we both knew that the war was far from over. That last fight proved who is the better fighter. There is definitely some unfinished business to take care of and that’s what we plan on sorting out this summer.
As told to Gareth A Davies